Eurobites: Orange Eyes Towers Spin-Off – Report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Nokia expands with VMware; TalkTalk boost profits; BT lands sports rights.

  • France's Orange is planning to follow Vodafone's example and spin off its mobile towers into a separate company, according to a report from the UK's Financial Times newspaper (subscription required) that cites sources close to the matter. The operator will update investors on its plans on December, says that story, and has reportedly been talking up its portfolio of tower assets ahead of the investor event. Today, it owns 59,000 towers across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, according to the Financial Times. The report comes amid signs of strong investor interest in tower assets and raises the prospect of a listing or partial sale by Orange in future. Tower assets owned by the operator would be valued at between €8 billion ($8.8 billion) and €10.3 billion ($11.4 billion), according to a Morgan Stanley analyst cited in the story. The plans would seem to reflect growing financial pressure on European operators, which face having to make large capital investments in higher-speed networks but are struggling to increase sales. (See More Towers for Sale: Telefónica's Turn to Offload Assets and Vodafone shares soar as it values towers spin-off at $20B.)

  • Nokia has expanded its partnership with VMware, the plan being to improve the interoperability between Nokia software applications and VMware's Telco Cloud. Nokia will continue to focus on the technical certification of its virtual network functions and software applications on VMware's vCloud NFV platform through a dedicated, on-site VMware Ready for NFV Certification Lab.

  • Headline fiscal half-year earnings at UK broadband provider TalkTalk rose 13.9% to £115 million ($148 million) on revenue that fell 0.9% to £764 million ($983.5 million). TalkTalk attributed some of the rise in earnings to savings made by its move north to new headquarters in Salford, while increased fiber penetration also boosted its figures.

  • BT Sport, one of the bits of BT that Labour doesn't plan to nationalize, has won exclusive UK rights to the smorgasbord of top-tier European soccer to be found in the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Europa Conference League until 2024. Last year, thanks largely to the success of English teams in the competition, BT Sport saw a 26% increase in UEFA Champions League viewer hours, with 11.3 million people tuning in to the final across all platforms.

  • In Turin, Telecom Italia (TIM) has been demonstrating how 5G can help improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, allowing roadside sensors connected to TIM's 5G network to communicate with nearby vehicles if, for example, a person is crossing the street. Onboard units on bikes and smartwatches were all involved in the mix.

  • Orange Bank, the banking arm of Orange, is celebrating its second birthday, and now claims to be acquiring new customers at a rate of more than 20,000 a month. The bank has recently signed a deal with Nexity, a real estate service platform, intended to finance property projects.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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